Medieval Vessels

Artefacts from one of the recently discovered shipwrecks in the South China Sea being retreived using ROVs

Magnificent Finds from 500-Year-Old China Shipwrecks

Archaeologists have recently discovered two 500-year-old shipwrecks in the South China Sea. These findings provide a remarkable glimpse into China's vibrant maritime history during the Ming Dynasty. The discoveries showcase exquisite artefacts and offer evidence of the extensive trade networks that once connected China to the rest of Asia and beyond.

3D model still of 16th century ship found at Dungeness quarry
3D model still of 16th century ship found at Dungeness quarry

Remains of a rare Elizabethan-era ship found in quarry

Workers at a quarry near Dungeness made the dramatic discovery of a rare Elizabethan-era shipwreck on the coast of Kent while dredging gravel for building materials out of a lake in April.

The location is now some 300 metres from the coast, but archaeologists believe that the site was once right on the coastline. The vessel could have been wrecked or abandoned on the former shoreline, and then gradually buried in sediment as time passed and the headland expanded. 

Cannon wreck seen from starboard bow
Cannon wreck seen from starboard bow

Nearly intact ancient shipwrecks found in the Baltic

The discoveries in the Baltic Sea are unprecedented and have revealed shipwrecks hundreds of years old. Two of them are with great certainty cargo vessels from the Netherlands, while the third and largest is supposed to be a Scandinavian vessel.

All three shipwrecks stand like ghost ships almost unscathed in total darkness on the seabed at a depth of approximately 150 meters and beyond the reach of modern fishing vessels.

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In order to obtain the best footage, two Swedish photogrammetry experts Ingemar Lundgren and Fredrik Skorg from the company Ocean Discovery took part in the expedition. An underwater robot equipped with an advanced camera brought thousands of images to the surface and reproduces with great precision a virtual image of the wrecks as they actually appear.

The pictures are so detailed that you get the feeling of being able to walk around a ship that sank hundreds of years ago.

Ancient shipwreck reveals a lost age of Mediterranean trade

According to the archaeologists, despite the religious tensions in the area, the shipwreck demonstrates that commerce was still thriving since it carried products from all over the Mediterranean, including Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, and the coast of North Africa.

It was around the time the largely Christian Byzantine Empire was in decline and had begun losing its grip on this eastern Mediterranean region while Islamic rule was extending its reach.

Earliest English medieval shipwreck uncovered

The survival of a vessel such as this is extremely rare, and there are no known wrecks of seagoing ships from the 11th to the 14th centuries in English waters. The discovery makes this the earliest English designated wreck site where hull remains can be seen, Bournemouth University writes.

The shipwreck was preserved due to unique environmental factors, according to maritime archaeologists now excavating and analyzing the site.

Wreck of Hanseatic kogge in Trave river
Dives showed that the wreck is at serious risk of erosion and exposed parts were infested with shipworm

375-Year-Old Shipwreck Found in German River

The shipwreck, which has been found to be about 375 years old, was found nearly 36 feet beneath the surface of the Trave River - a river in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, which flows into the Baltic Sea at Travemünde. The ship was found during routine measurements of the river by the local waterway and shipping authority which detected an anomaly at the river bottom using a multibeam echosounder.

A model of the Bremer cog
A model of the Bremer cog

800-year-old shipwreck found off Sweden's West Coast

“The wreck is made from oak, cut between 1233 and 1240, so nearly 800 years ago,” said Staffan von Arbin, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg.


Last autumn, the University of Gothenburg conducted archaeological diving inspections along the coast of Bohuslän to find out more about known wrecks on the seafloor. It was during this work that the maritime archaeologists came upon the wreck outside of Fjällbacka, which has been given the name “Dyngökoggen.”

The bow of a vessel believed to be from a 13th century Mongolian invasion attempt

Shipwreck from 13th century Mongolian invasion found off Japan

On 2 July archaeologists surveying the waters off the island of Takashima confirmed a shipwreck found here is a vessel from a 13th-century Mongolian fleet that foundered in a typhoon in a failed attempt to invade Japan.

The recently discovered ship is estimated to have been 65 feet long and around 20 feet wide and was carrying 13th-century Chinese ceramics, as well as ironware that positively identified it as a ship belonging to one of the two doomed Mongol fleets. The two invasion attempts in 1274 and 1281 ended in vain as both fleets were destroyed in typhoons.